FAQS - Rabbits

I have found a rabbit and it has very messy eyes (gummy/white fluid)

This is a sign that the rabbit may have myxomatosis, which is a fatal disease for rabbits, and highly contagious to other rabbits. Sadly there is no cure for it, and the rabbit will need to be put to sleep as soon as possible to prevent further suffering. Please contact your local wildlife centre, or take to a local vet who should help.

Myxomatosis cannot be passed to humans, but is highly infectious to other rabbits. If you have cause to handle a myxi rabbit and have pet rabbits at home please take all precautions (gloves, hygiene etc).

I have found a baby wild rabbit/hare. What do I do?

Rabbits hide their nests in plain sight, often putting them in the open; for example, in the middle of the lawn, as well as in brush piles and long grass. If you find a nest that has been disturbed, please do all you can to restore and protect it rather than bring the infants inside. If a dog has discovered the nest, keep the dog away from the area and reconstruct the nest with grasses. If necessary you can move the nest a few feet away to somewhere safer.

Rabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes at a time. They will be in the nest early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes. Mother rabbits do not “sit” on the babies to keep them warm as do some mammals and birds. They build a nest with fur and grasses which helps to keep the babies warm in between feedings.

So what should I do if I find wild baby rabbits?

The answer to this question is pretty simple: in most cases you should leave them where you found them. Wild rabbits do not need human help, unless the mother rabbit has been killed. Do not handle them unless absolutely necessary.

How can you tell if a baby rabbit is old enough to fend for itself?

Look for a white blaze on their foreheads. If they don’t have the blaze, they are old enough to be outside on their own. Just leave them alone.

If they do have a white blaze?

They are still under their mother’s care. Leave them in their nest or put them back (wearing gloves) if they’re outside of the nest. Very young wild baby bunnies with eyes closed and ears back rarely survive in captivity, even given the most expert human care; and so it is very important to determine whether they really need help.

If you are concerned that the mother has abandoned the babies, try taking two twigs and lay them in an “X” over the nest. When mother rabbit comes to feed them, she will disturb the twigs, so they can then monitor for this.

Wild female rabbits build shallow nests (called “forms”) and only visit the nest once or twice a day to nurse. The rest of the time, they will be out of sight but probably nearby. A mother rabbit’s infrequent visitations are meant to keep the nest hidden ‐ more frequent visits would draw unwelcome attention from predators. Because the doe visits the nest typically just before dawn and just after dark, it can appear as if the babies were abandoned.
If the babies have full bellies, they are being cared for, and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone.
If you know the mother rabbit to be deceased (say, a dog catches her and you find the nest) or if the nest has been destroyed then it is ok to bring the baby rabbits in for care.

If you are concerned that the mother has abandoned the babies, try taking two twigs and lay them in an “X” over the nest. When mother rabbit comes to feed them, she will disturb the twigs, so they can then monitor for this. Wild female rabbits build shallow nests (called “forms”) and only visit the nest once or twice a day to nurse. The rest of the time, they will be out of sight but probably nearby. A mother rabbit’s infrequent visitations are meant to keep the nest hidden ‐ more frequent visits would draw unwelcome attention from predators. Because the doe visits the nest typically just before dawn and just after dark, it can appear as if the babies were abandoned. If the babies have full bellies, they are being cared for, and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone. If you know the mother rabbit to be deceased (say, a dog catches her and you find the nest) or if the nest has been destroyed then it is ok to bring the baby rabbits in for care.

Some useful telephone numbers:

RSPCA: 0300 1234 999